Affirmed Networks is supporting several fledgling Standalone 5G trials with its new UnityCloud solution, which it described as bringing together 5G and webscale technology on a virtualized network platform that allows operators to converge their networks onto a single core.
UnityCloud, the company said, is an evolution of its Mobile Content Cloud virtualized solution for Nonstandalone 5G networks, which is deployed in than 100 service provider networks globally and is supporting services including consumer mobile, Wi-Fi, the internet of things and 5G broadband.
“We’re taking all the experience we’ve gained over the last six years and using it to address the SA market,” said Scott Heinlein, senior director of marketing at Affirmed Networks.
While virtualization helped address network capital costs related to purpose-built hardware, operating expenses are still a big challenge, according to Scott Heinlein. Bringing new services to market rapidly and efficiently, life cycle management and monitoring are among the aspects that are “still very painful, that virtualization did not solve,” he added.
He went on to say that the new platform enables services to be launched in days or weeks, rather than months, to allow network operators to minimize the risk and cost associated with deploying new services. Affirmed said that operating costs can be reduced by as much as 90% via UnityCloud, which was developed with a focus on four key areas: automation, to reduce network planning opex, service-related manual work and network scaling; self-assurance, with built-in alerting, logging, tracing, monitoring and performance management; high availability, including in-service upgradeability; and the ability to serve as a platform for innovation via lowering the risk, time and cost of launching new services, so that operators can enter new markets more easily.
Affirmed considers UnityCloud to be truly “cloud native,” with a microservices-based architecture that Heinlein said allows for easy updates and replacements of software, and which can be deployed at the core or the edge, in public cloud, private cloud or hybrid environments.
Heinlein said that Affirmed aims to bring the same approach to networks that cloud-native, webscale tech companies have been using for years now, but which hasn’t made its way into the telco environment. The company focused on flexibility, he said, so that operators can leverage the solution no matter which 5G deployment options they choose.
“We’re in this to really help operators get to a 5G, cloud-native core — and we don’t have any hardware to protect,” Heinlein said. “We are all in on 5G, no matter how they do it.”